Courtney Snyder, MD
Purpose, Healing and Happiness
Whatever language, symbolism or religious framework we use or try not to use, many of us believe there's a reason each of us are here ...at this time, in this place and with these people. Though I think a lot about the details of health, I fall short on the bigger picture of healing if I forget that our wellbeing depends on much more, not the least of which is having a deep sense of purpose in our lives.
Purpose can energize us. It is a reason to do the hard work; to get out of bed. It lowers stress and it’s associated physiologic responses. Futility is stressful. So is incongruence - the mismatch between our natural abilities and passions and what we’re actually doing. With purpose comes a clarity about what and with whom we want to spend our time.
Courtney Snyder, MD
Expectation - the pervasive force that can deflate some of our happiest moments. Expectation makes us hold too tightly to what we think should happen or how we think someone should respond to something we've done. Disappointment often follows. ...But, do we have to live with expectation?
I started wondering about this while volunteering with my family alongside a couple whose organization gives food, friendship and dignity to people living on the streets. Without naiveté about addiction, mental illness and homelessness, this couple never seemed to question whether or not they should give. Their intent was to serve. How many of us have questioned the best way to give to a homeless person fearing if we give money, they’ll spend it on alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. While it makes sense, not wanting to participate in a possible addiction, it also raises an important question - Are we actually "giving" when we need to have certainty of the outcome?
I'm a conventionally trained child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist. My current approach to health is both holistic (pertaining to the whole person) and functional (addressing the root causes of illness). I write this blog to share what I've learned.